“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness — it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.”— Brene Brown
When my kids get out of school at the beginning of every summer, we start the ritual of going swimming. Even though it’s warm during the day, the nights can get a little cool in the desert. So when we begin our yearly routine, the pool is quite cold.
And it’s that initial plunge into the pool which is the hardest. But once you take that plunge, you begin to warm up and enjoy swimming. Your body adapts, and you immerse yourself in the experience.
Yet, if you never take that initial plunge, the experience is altogether different — and it’s fear which holds us back. It’s that shock the coldness brings which keeps us from jumping in. It’s the idea of feeling uncomfortable we avoid so much, even if it’s for a short period of time.
However, this idea in our minds is usually never what the reality is. We believe our past experiences will be our future ones, too. So we don’t take the leap, and we keep ourselves from possibly experiencing something new.
We end up wondering what it would have been like to be in that moment.
But the moment has passed — and there are no second chances on moments gone. You may have a second chance to take the plunge, but it won’t be the same moment. And things can change drastically even after a little time has passed.
We don’t allow ourselves these moments because we are scared. It’s the same in everything we do — our relationships, our career, family, and friends. It has been ingrained in us to avoid hurt and to avoid being uncomfortable at all costs. So we keep these ideas and thoughts to ourselves, and it leaves those around us wondering what we are thinking. Because we never express it. We hold our thoughts tightly in our minds since it’s safe there.
There’s no judgment from words never said.
We live in a world full of fear, full of the thought we shouldn’t open ourselves up too much because we may get taken advantage of, or even worse, get hurt. This is especially true when it comes to dating.
It seems we have become afraid of feeling.
This is clear in many articles I have read on the subject. One was about “how to avoid catching feelings.” But isn’t that what dating is for? Isn’t that what we are striving for, what we want? To catch feelings for someone? Why are we so afraid of our feelings, and why are we scared to express them?
It’s because of that ingrained fear. It’s because we can’t just be in the moment and say what we are feeling. We worry about what will happen if we take that leap. So we never jump — and while that may protect you now, it may also ruin your chances later. Because there may not be a later.
We are so closed off, we would rather let these opportunities pass than allow ourselves a little vulnerability and allow ourselves to feel something.
It’s become unpopular to feel something. It’s wrong to feel deeply since that may show our true selves — who we are and what we are thinking. And we don’t want that.
So we guard our hearts. And these moments pass.
We end up never taking the leap into the pool and immerse ourselves in the experience. The experience we so intensely need and want.
However, there are no do-overs. This life is all you get, this moment is all you have. A moment in time to express yourself, to feel. To leap.
But even if you don’t want to leap, maybe just lean into it a little. Because once you begin to lean, it is much easier to fall.
Jeff Barton is a writer, ultra-runner, lover of books and zombies, a practitioner of positive thinking, and most importantly, a dad. Living and loving life one day at a time. You can find him at jeffthewriter.com and jefftherunner.com.
Image courtesy of Erik Dungan.